Name: Tiffany Davis
Office Sought: Circuit Judge – 22nd Judicial Circuit – Subcircuit 1 – Vacancy of the Honorable Charles P. Weech
Occupation: Circuit Judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit—Subcircuit 1
Education: University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Bachelor of Arts, 1991 | Southern Illinois University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1994
Elected office held: N/A
Date of Birth: Aug. 12, 1969
1) What skills, qualities or experience do you have that separate you from your opponents?
I am a McHenry County Circuit Judge and 20-year-resident of McHenry County, living in Woodstock with my family. I was sworn in last year after being appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Prior to being appointed, I served as a prosecutor for over 22 years with the McHenry County and the Winnebago County State’s Attorneys’ Offices. I prosecuted thousands of cases and tried over 45 jury trials, including 15 murder trials. I have prosecuted every type of crime, including murders, arsons, sex crimes, weapons offenses, narcotics violations, DUIs, home invasions, armed robberies, and property crimes. As the only former career prosecutor currently serving on the bench in McHenry County, I bring a unique perspective and experience to the courts, especially as violent crime continues to rise in our communities.
I have also taught criminal law and criminal procedure at McHenry County College, serving as an Adjunct Instructor in Criminal Justice, since 2004.
It is my extensive 22 years of litigation experience as a proven trial attorney, my long history of dedicated public service, as well as my experience as a sitting McHenry County Circuit Judge that sets me apart.
2) Do you have a strong sense of moral behavior in your personal life and how would that carry over into your decisions on the bench?
I have a strong moral compass. My character was shaped and is shown not only by how I was raised, but also how I handled adversity.
My moral compass comes from my father. Growing up, my father was in the Air Force. He taught me the importance of a love of our country and modeled dedication to serving others. My parents worked tirelessly to put me through college, my father becoming a car salesman after retirement and my mother opening a beauty salon. They encouraged my pursuit of a legal career and my dream of becoming a judge.
For the best example of how I handle adversity, look to 1999 when after I lost my sister to a tragic act of domestic violence, I adopted her son, my 18-month-old nephew, and almost overnight became a single mother while working as a young prosecutor in McHenry County.
Those experiences drove me to pursue the law. I bring to the bench a familiarity with how our system of justice works to assist and protect people impacted by the choices of others, as well as promote fairness. My personal and professional experiences shaped who I am as a judge.
3) Does the Bail Reform Act do enough to level the playing field for poor people in the criminal justice system? Why or why not?
The Bail Reform Act is just one cog in the wheel towards the goal of equality in the criminal justice system. It is up to the other cogs and integral parts of the criminal justice system to work together to reach the common goal of equal justice for all. Police officers, probation officers, attorneys, prosecutors, and, most importantly, judges must all do their part as well to ensure equal access to justice.
4) Is there a Justice on the Supreme Court that you admire? Who and why?
My all time favorite Supreme Court Justice was Sandra Day O’Connor. Not only was she the first woman to have the honor of serving on the United States Supreme Court, but also, she recognized and said, “No one accomplishes anything in this world alone.” She sent a letter to me encouraging me in the pursuit of the law and justice after my father wrote to her telling her of my aspirations to be a lawyer and one day a judge.
5) How will your party affiliation influence your actions as a judge?
Party affiliation will not influence my actions as judge. I am guided only by the law and the evidence. As a judge, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution.
To best understand the judicial temperament that I strive for, look to Lady Justice. Her eyes are covered, her mouth closed, and her ears open—she’s listening. As judge, I am diligent about following this example, ensuring that every person in my courtroom feels like they were listened to and truly heard.
Lady Justice holds a sword, but it is lowered. It’s ready to use when necessary to defend or strike. It is lowered because she has not reached her decision and it may not be necessary to use at all. I understand there will be a need to be tough and a need to be compassionate.
Finally, Lady Justice holds scales that are balanced, showing us that it is always time to be fair. The sides are equal—neither side starts out with an advantage—and everything is even. My courtroom is one where all who enter know they will get a fair and unbiased hearing, and that nothing other than facts and evidence will tip the scales of justice.
6) Do you think cameras should be allowed in McHenry County courtrooms? Why or why not?
The Illinois Supreme Court has authorized cameras in the courtroom while leaving it up to the individual circuits to allow them. In Rockford, Winnebago County, where I worked as a criminal prosecutor for the last 10 years prosecuting violent crimes such as murder, they were allowed in the courtroom upon prior written approval by the Chief Judge and trial court administration with notice to the parties and time for witnesses to object. Initially, the concern of parties from both sides was that cameras might have a chilling effect on witness testimony. However, with certain procedural safeguards in place, including not filming the jurors, witnesses still testified and trials were conducted fairly.